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Samuel Chase


Samuel Chase, by Charles Willson Peale, after Charles Willson Peale, c. 1819. Used by permission of Independence National Historic Park.
Samuel Chase, by Charles Willson Peale, after Charles Willson Peale, c. 1819. Used by permission of Independence National Historic Park.
   Samuel Chase was the son of the Rev. Thomas Chase, a clergyman of distinction, in the protestant Episcopal church, who, after his emigration to America, married the daughter of a respectable farmer, and settled, for a time, in Somerset county, in Maryland, where this son was born, on the 17th of April, 1741.

   In 1743, Mr. Chase removed to Baltimore, having been appointed to the charge of St. Paul's church, in that place. Even in Baltimore, at this period, there was no school of a high order. The instruction of his son, therefore, devolved upon Mr. Chase, than whom few, fortunately, were better qualified for such a charge. His own attainments in classical learning were much superior to those who had been educated in America. Under the instruction of one so well qualified to teach, the son soon outstripped most of his com-peers, and at the early age of eighteen was sent to Annapolis, to commence the study of law. After a sedulous attention to his preparatory course, for two years, he was admitted to practice in the mayor's court, and two years from this latter date, was licensed for the chancery, and some of the county courts. Finding the number of practitioners at Annapolis small, he settled in that place as a lawyer, where he was soon after connected in marriage with an amiable and intelligent lady, by whom he had two sons and two daughters, a11 of whom survived their parents.

   The incidents in the life of Mr. Chase, for several years, were but few. Devoted to his professional duties, he not only acquired a respectable share of business, but became highly distinguished for his legal attainments.

   The political career of Mr. Chase commenced about the, time of the congress of 1774, in which body he acted as a de-legate from Maryland. This station he continued to occupy for several years. In the spring of 1776, he was appointed by congress, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Car-roll, to a trust of a most important nature. This was a mission to Canada, the object of which was, to induce the inhabitants of that country to withdraw their connection from Great Britain, and to join the American confederacy. The undertaking was attended with great difficulties; but as Mr. Chase, though young, was distinguished for his abilities, and characterized for a most ardent patriotism, he was appointed one of the commissioners. Mr. Carroll, and his brother, afterwards the archbishop of Baltimore, were added to the commission, under an apprehension that they might exercise a salutary influence with the Catholics in Canada. Although the objects of the expedition were not attained, the fidelity of the commissioners was never, for a moment, questioned.

   On his return to Philadelphia, Mr. Chase found that a pro-position had been made in congress to issue a declaration of independence. The situation of the Maryland delegation, in respect to such a measure, was peculiarly trying. They had been expressly prohibited, by the convention which appointed them, from voting in favor of a declaration of independence; and, as they had accepted their appointments under this restriction, they aid not feel at liberty to give such a measure their active and open support.

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Last modified January 5, 2005